Dear Editor: I strongly oppose the idea of merging PCMA and MPI. [“Imagine the Possibilities,” page 92, AM December]. I've been a member of PCMA for more than 16 years, and I have had staff belong to MPI as well. They are completely different organizations. They may serve the same general audience, but they serve them in different ways — especially when it comes to education. PCMA has always been No. 1 in education at its annual meeting, and it has only educational sessions as opposed to MPI, which has education sessions and exhibits. Further, I believe that when these organizations were formed, PCMA was the only one that had primarily association planners in mind. Competition is good and that is how we grow and learn!
Deborah L. Richardt, CMP
Director, Meeting Services
American Thoracic Society
New York, N.Y.

APEX Matters

Dear Editor: I am writing as the chairman of the Convention Industry Council. Your suggestion that CIC's focus on a “2,500-word glossary of industry terms” is hardly what the current industry crisis demands is cause for great concern. [“A Business No One Can Afford to Lose,” page 6, AM December]

The glossary is just the first step in a complex series of APEX [Accepted Practices Exchange] initiatives. APEX's mission is “to spearhead an industry-wide initiative that brings together all stakeholders in the development and implementation of industry-wide accepted practices which create and enhance efficiencies throughout the meeting, convention and exhibition industry.” Simply, CIC is leading the industry to create a new business model for itself.

You are right to say that there has never been a more crucial time in the history of our industry for leadership. Focusing our energies on inventing new models of work efficiency is among the most important steps that any industry could ever take.
Steven Hacker, CAE
International Association for Exhibition Management
Dallas, Texas

Better Industry Effort Needed

(Commentary on MeetingsNet.Xtra, our weekly e-mail newsletter. Subscribe at

Dear Editor: I do not agree with lodging analyst Bjorn Hanson's finding that the continuing drop in hotel demand — even as the economy recovers and even if there isn't a war — is due, as he says, “increasingly to traveler concerns about safety and convenience.” [“Meetings Gain Power,” MeetingsNetExtra, January 12.]

Air travel to meetings is declining because many of our potential attendees (especially the younger ones) have concluded that meetings and trade shows do not fulfill their needs. And the bean counters are encouraging this by banning travel for “discretionary” purposes. Unfortunately, meetings fit this definition.

We in the industry know that face-to-face is the most cost-effective way to learn, network, and sell. But too many of our customers do not believe this anymore. Can this situation be corrected by individual planners and show organizers? Or does it require an industrywide effort — as was done, for example, by the beef industry? I think the latter is needed but despair that this can ever be done. Several such efforts have been attempted, but none has succeeded. Can we put aside our parochial concerns and work for the common good?
Michael Hough
MRH Associates, Inc.
Avon, Conn
The Profitable Tradeshow